Eco-friendly fashion is giving one Yellowknife resident the opportunity of a lifetime.
Since she was a young girl in Sudbury, Ont., Gisele Forget has always been fascinated with the environment.
She was born one of six children in the 1960s. Living in Northern Ontario and not having much, Forget was always given hand-me-down clothes to wear. Although they were not desirable, she made the most of them by reconstructing the garments into something new. This is where Forget’s passion for fashion began.
“In the early 60s there was a mentality of reusing,” said Forget. “There wasn’t as much plastic and there wasn’t as much waste products as there is now so it was easier.”
Almost 20 years later while living in Thunder Bay, Ont., Forget and her (now ex) husband took the “crunchy granola type” mentality they possessed and moved to Yellowknife. Both had the intention of raising musk-ox for their wool, however after realizing their initial passion would not be prosperous, Forget resorted to being a stay-at-home mother of three.
Forget, knowing she had to find work to sustain a decent upbringing for her children, started working for the Government of the Northwest Territories.
She also sold falafels and cappuccinos at the Yellowknife city markets, doing so she found a market audience for her product and then began tinkering with accessories.
“I started from to collect beads and make jewellery,” she said.
Forget eventually found success selling jewellery and holistic crystals and later vintage clothing. She had a store for three years called Earth and Sky.
Forget eventually went back to school.
“I wanted to be an example to my kids,” said Forget. “I was not happy with my job, I was not happy with my marriage … I wanted to show them what it takes to ignite the flame and once that little flame is ignited you still have to feed it.”
With her eco-friendly background Forget started making clothes from a variety of fabrics.
“I really like working with curtains because it gives you a larger amount of fabric, if you’re taking clothes from the thrift store then you’re really limited on the fabric you have.” she said. “I recycle as much as possible, I’m at about 80 per cent on how much fabric I reuse.”
Forget started finding her purpose while creating her clothing. Forget claims she was put on this planet to show people that mother earth matters.
It was in Greece where she became aware of an eco-friendly fashion show, she applied in August and didn’t hear back until a month later. When she did hear back it was good news, Forget had been accepted to showcase her brand, Salvij by Gigi, as one-of-three Canadian designers on the runway at Eco Fashion Week Australia.
Forget said she was very enthusiastic when she heard of her acceptance and said she hopes this opportunity will allow her to educate the public on slow fashion versus fast fashion.
“I saw my business card on the internet and it sank in like ‘Oh my god I’m really going to this’,” said Forget. “Fashion is one of the worst industries for the environment.”
Forget was given $5,000 by the GNWT in grants to pursue Eco Fashion Week Australia. The show is scheduled between Nov.23 to 27 in Perth. Forget said she hopes when she is finished their will be a deeper calling for her in Yellowknife.
“I love Yellowknife, its my heart and soul. That’s the component that burns inside me,” she said. “Every garment needs to have a story behind it and I want to tell the story.”
Forget intends to help Yellowknifers tell the stories behind the fabrics through instituting “fix-it-yourself” workshops.